The McPherson Tape (1989)

On the evening of October 8, 1983, the Van Heese family gathered to celebrate the birthday of 5-year-old Michelle. As the mother and her three sons Eric, Jason and Michael celebrated along with Eric’s wife Jamie and Jason’s girlfriend Renee, they soon had to solve a power outage. When the brothers went outside, they noticed a red light in the sky. And that’s when things went bad quickly, as red lights in the sky, an alien craft and even beings were recorded by Michael’s video camera.

Except, you know, this was all a found footage shot on video film by director and writer Dean Alioto, who used just $6,500 to make the film. The master tape burned in a warehouse fire shortly after being picked up for distribution, so this was a rare film for some time. In 2018, Alioto released the film on DVD and digital, then AGFA released a  blu ray that’s the best way to see this movie.

So many UFO lovers thought that this was real footage and the 1990s show Encounters even claimed that it was real footage. That’s because the bootlegs that were circulating had no credits. That’s where The McPherson Tape name comes from, as this was really named Alien Abduction. It was remade in 1998 as Alien Abduction: Incident in Lake County.

The film feels a lot like the real life Kelly–Hopkinsville encounter — which I have also heard called the Hopkinsville Goblins Case — in which the communities of Kelly and Hopkinsville in Christian County, Kentucky battled several goblin-looking extraterrestrials. It’s one of one of the most significant and well-documented cases in the history of UFO incidents, even if the Air Force classified it as a hoax in Project Blue Book. Night Skies, which became E.T., and Critters were based on this story.

One thought on “The McPherson Tape (1989)

  1. I remember this from 1990 on TV, they even got physicist and longtime UFO champ Stan Friedman out there talking about the implications. I felt so bad for him. I didn’t quite buy into it but I was able to believe it enough that it scared the shit out of me in a way nothing else could since BLAIR WITCH. As long as there’s even a 2% chance it might be at least partially true, it works as myth and is therefor better, more ‘real’ than either truth or fiction. The ending is super creepy too. Blair Witch def. took a page from it.


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